The Shi'ites of the Middle East: An Iranian fifth column?

Reuters

Shi'ite Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Imam Hussein shrine in the holy city of Kerbala July 18, 2014. Iraq's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric has criticized the government and international agencies for failing to do enough to help hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by fighting between government forces and Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Article Highlights

  • Iran’s apparent intervention in the ongoing crisis in Iraq highlights another quandary for US policymakers.

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  • The role of the diverse Shi’ite communities has become increasingly important for regional stability.

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  • Growing sectarian divisions present dilemmas to Shi’ite communities, regional Sunni rulers, and the US.

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As sectarian violence rages in Iraq and Syria and simmers across the broader region, the role of the Middle East’s diverse Shi’ite communities has become increasingly important for regional stability.

Growing sectarian divisions present dilemmas to Shi’ite communities, regional Sunni rulers, and the United States, including how to preserve communal security and religious freedom while rebuffing outside forces — be they Sunni or Shi’ite — that might try to destabilize or undercut the independence of Shi‘ite religious communities. Iran’s apparent intervention in the ongoing crisis in Iraq highlights another quandary for American policymakers: how can America rebuff Iranian ambitions to speak on behalf of the diverse array of Shi’ite communities beyond Iran?

To help address these questions, AEI resident scholar Michael Rubin and senior research associate Ahmad Majidyar have released a booklet highlighting the diversity of Shi’ite communities in the Middle East, the political and diplomatic issues unique to each one, and efforts by each to resist Iranian political and religious domination. 


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: DOES AMERICA GET THE SHI'ITES WRONG?       
    Michael Rubin

► HAS IRAN OVERPLAYED ITS HAND IN IRAQ?      
    Michael Rubin

► IS SECTARIAN TENSION PLUNGING LEBANON INTO A NEW CIVIL WAR?       
    Ahmad K. Majidyar  

ARE BAHRAINI SHI'ITES PUPPETS OF IRAN?      
    Michael Rubin

► SAUDI ARABIA'S FORGOTTEN SHI'ITE SPRING       
    Ahmad K. Majidyar 

► HAS KUWAIT REACHED THE SECTARIAN TIPPING POINT?       
    Michael Rubin

► IS SECTARIAN BALANCE IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, OMAN, AND QATAR AT RISK?       
    Ahmad K. Majidyar

► AZERBAIJAN'S IRAN PROBLEM      
    Michael Rubin

► THE SHI'ITES OF PAKISTAN: A MINORITY UNDER SIEGE       
    Ahmad K. Majidyar

► CONCLUSION: WINNING THE SHI'ITES CAN CHECKMATE IRAN       
    Michael Rubin

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Ahmad K.
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